Easterwood Airport upgrade

Signage for Astin Aviation can be seen on a window at a new terminal at Easterwood Airport that was unveiled Friday. The terminal is part of a $15 million project funded by Astin in a partnership with the Texas A&M University System.

Better taxiways will be the primary focus of a $2.86 million grant for Easterwood Airport, part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program, an initiative to invest over $3 billion in the country’s airports 

The Easterwood Airport grant is one of 358 grants to 327 airports in 46 states and the Pacific Islands, according to a Federal Aviation Administration press release.

Astin Partners — the Brazos Valley-based company that manages Easterwood on behalf of the Texas A&M University System, which owns the airport — took over operations of the airport in June 2014, signing a 10-year deal. John Clanton, CEO of Astin Partners, said the funds are for the realignment and improvement of the main taxiway.  

“We think that the construction activity will begin before the year is out, and it will probably be a 12-month process, maybe a little bit longer,” Clanton said. He said that the construction work is not expected to adversely impact the daily operations or capacity of the airport. According to data from the Private Enterprise Research Center at Texas A&M, Easterwood recorded 73,430 passenger boardings in 2017.

“This grant is funded through aviation funds collected from taxes specifically on aviation, so they’re not coming out of anyone’s 1040 that they file every year,” Clanton said.

Nationally, selected projects include runway reconstruction and rehabilitation, construction of firefighting facilities, and the maintenance of taxiways, aprons and terminals. According to an FAA press release, the goal of the grant funding is to improve airports’ safety, emergency response capabilities and capacity. 

“This significant investment in airport improvements will fund construction and rehabilitation projects that will help maintain high levels of safety in U.S. aviation,” U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in a statement.

Other airports in Texas, including both major airports in Houston and Love Field and DFW International Airport in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, also received grants.

In a statement, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, praised the Easterwood grant funding.

“I proudly supported this funding in the Senate, and I thank President Trump and Secretary Chao for supporting the needs of Texans in Brazos County,” he said.

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